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Texting While Driving Accidents

Car Crash Lawyers Advocating for New York City Residents

Sending messages via smartphone while driving is always a risky idea. Although many cities around the country, including New York City, have cracked down on texting while driving and other forms of distracted driving, people continue to do it. Between 2011 and 2016, there was a 918% increase in tickets for texting in the State of New York. Around the country, about 391,000 people were injured in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers. If you are injured by a driver who you suspect was texting while driving, the New York City car accident lawyers at Newman, Anzalone & Newman, LLP may be able to help you recover damages.

Texting While Driving Accidents

Texting is responsible for a significant number of accidents. New York law forbids all drivers from using portable electronic devices while driving. Portable electronic devices are defined to include cell phones as well as laptops, pagers, two-way messaging devices, portable computing devices, and personal digital assistants. "Use" can include texting, but it can also include composing messages or email, reading messages or email, transmitting data, taking pictures, looking at data, or retrieving email.

There are exceptions for using a hands-free device that allows the user to communicate without using a hand, using a handheld device fixed to a surface inside the car, or using a GPS device attached to the car. There is also an exception for communicating emergencies to the police, fire department, ambulance, or a hospital or doctor's office.

Often, you need to turn to your own no-fault insurance for basic medical expenses and lost wages that you suffer, up to $50,000. However, it may also be possible to pursue damages under a theory of negligence per se if another driver was cited for texting while driving in connection with your accident, and you suffer serious qualifying injuries or economic losses of more than $50,000.

Negligence per se means negligence as a matter of law. It applies when a defendant has violated a safety law or regulation that was designed to prevent against the types of injuries suffered by the plaintiff. It can be helpful for a plaintiff’s attorney to pursue damages under a theory of negligence per se because in most situations, the focus of these cases shifts away from liability toward the scope of damages: what they are and how much.

In some cases, a plaintiff is partially to blame for their own injuries, notwithstanding the other driver's texting while driving. The insurer for the other driver may look for ways in which the victim was at fault to try to reduce their damages.

Comparative negligence is determined by a jury, who will also decide the total damages. If you are a plaintiff who is found comparatively negligent, your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if the total damages in a texting while driving accident resulting in a bodily injury claim are $500,000, but you are found 10% at fault for driving slightly above the speed limit, your damages may be reduced such that you recover $450,000 from the other driver.

What if you are not sure whether the other driver was texting while driving, but you suspect that they were? It is always wise to call the police to the scene, since they may be able to get further information and provide a citation that allows you to establish negligence per se. It may also be possible to find out whether a driver was using a portable handheld device through the discovery process. In some cases, drivers admit this during deposition. In other cases, it may be possible to obtain cell phone records. In still other cases, a witness, such as a passenger in the defendant's car, may admit that the defendant was texting while driving, even though the driver does not.

Consult a New York City Attorney to Hold a Texting Driver Accountable

Newman, Anzalone & Newman, LLP provides aggressive legal representation to people injured in texting while driving accidents. Our lawyers represent car crash victims in Queens, the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island. Call us at 718-896-2700 or use our online form to set up an appointment to discuss a case arising from distracted driving, drunk driving, or another type of careless conduct behind the wheel.